This weekend, five and a half years after signing the lease, the anticipated Alamo Drafthouse opens its doors to embrace cinephiles of New York City.
Located at 445 Albee Square West in the continuing renovation of Downtown Brooklyn, this newest chapter of the indie theatre chain’s growth is located on the top floor of City Point. On the fourth floor. Past the Century 21, and still-in-construction Trader Joe’s and Target.
That might not seem as authentically kitschy in exterior as some of Alamo’s other locations, but once you reach your destination, you’re in for a transformative escape.
Once inside, 7 theaters (796 seats) host a selection of classic films,cult favorites and of course select first-run releases. CEO Tim League promises there will be a broad mix of programming for New York audiences. For their Friday launch they’re putting the spotlight on a “NEW IN TOWN” line-up that includes Muppets Take Manhattan, Mean Girls, The Tenant, Coming to America and even The Coca-Cola Kid.
Before purchasing your tickets, you’ll be tempted to do your best King Kong impression on their recreation of the famous final scene from the 1933 version. It’s recommended you turn on the black and white filter on your photo first.
There are other distractions before you get to your seat, so you’ll want to get to your movie early. You definitely don’t want to get to it late, as the theater has a strict no-late-seating policy.
Movie-going at an Alamo Drafthouse is an immersive and celebratory event. Greeting you past the ticket counter is a long carpet with a familiar pattern.
Rather than leading you to room 237 or a ghoulish pair of twin girls, you’ll be tempted to make a stop at the House of Wax. The bar is positioned as a museum with cocktails, not to mention 44 (with even more beers to select from once you get to your theater). The draft selection is 100% all local, New York State derived. Cocktails are themed into anatomicals, pathologicals and geographicals. Try the Butcher of Hanover, if you dare.
House of Wax is a full-service bar based on the panoptica touring attractions of the late 1800s. This isn’t your cheesy Times Square assembly of the latest celebrities and past historical figures. You’re surrounded by a macabre selection of waxwork sculptures, all life-size, often in select body parts. There are even death masks of famous and infamous celebrities.
A peak behind the red curtain at the back of the bar will satisfy your fix for wax demonstrations of corsetry, infectious diseases and more. There are over 140 pieces focusing on medical, ethnographic, and sensationalized characters from the 19th century.
Though the bar takes its name from the classic Vincent Price 3D thriller, it’s also a nod to the Alamo’s vinyl record labels Mondo and Death Waltz. A selection of those albums are beautifully displayed in the bar, but also available for sale.
On your way to your cinema, you’ll be distracted by the gallery treatment of some spectacular movie poster art from over the decades.
League is particularly proud of Alamo’s large collection of Turkish movie posters, many of which are on display in the main hallway to the auditoriums. The Alamo founder/owner is quick to point out the company has a large vault of 35mm prints (over 4000) including the only known copy of the Turkish unofficially licensed remake of Star Wars.
Bring your appetite to the Alamo as well. New York native Chef Fernando Marulanda, greeted us inside for a loving description of the food. The menu features a variety of flavors representing the variety of people in New York. From Cuban to West Indian, Marulanda promises it’s all comfort food but also part of the escape of moviegoing. For those of you familiar with Alamo’s menu elsewhere, you’ll be relieved he’s kept their queso recipe intact.
Tech specs in the theatres are top notch. The largest auditorium features a 50 feet screen, there’s capability to play 35mm, 3D and of course everything is crystal clear in 4K digital projection. At our press preview, the trailer for Rogue One, as well as a Dolby sound check, ensured that. Of course, all pre-show entertainment (another reason to come to the film early) is always programmed to the theme of the feature presentation.
New York Creative Manager Cristina Cacioppo notes “to most New Yorkers, this is their first time experiencing an Alamo Drafthouse, so in many ways this represents the efforts of 19 years of programming. It sounds cliché, but there will be something for everyone.”
Though a lot of the expected policies and programming are carried throughout all Alamo Drafthouse locations (25 total, 190 screens), League promises he doesn’t want to treat it like a chain. Localized events will cater to the Brooklyn/New York crowds, but he doesn’t view nearby repertory and art houses to be competition. “I love what the Nitehawk Cinema and Metrograph do,” explained League, “and they’re friends because the community of programmers is small.” This camaraderie over competition is part of the success story of Alamo. The brand is eager to partner with festivals, and bring programming to satellite movie houses, for special events (recently at Anthology Film Archives and the Kings Theater).
The best way to get to the new Drafthouse is public transit, as it’s centrally located to serve the Long Island Rail Road and the subway system (via the B/Q/R and 2/3 trains).
The official opening is Friday, October 28th, but you can head over to the new Alamo as of today for a variety of screenings (including classics like The Dark Crystal and new releases like Kubo and the Two Strings. The House of Wax bar is also open for business.
The Alamo Drafthouse features a full-service bar and kitchen, in-theater dining and a strictly enforced no-talking/no-texting policy.
Upcoming programming highlights include:
Join us for a fun family party with props and the chance to quote your favorite lines. And of course we will dance the Mamushka! It’s the perfect way to celebrate the Halloween season. We’ll also have a costume contest with prizes for individuals and family costumes.
With star Andre Gower live in person! Mondo will also be joining the fray with copies of The Monster Squad score – its first ever release on vinyl – available to guests to purchase on site.
Heavenly Creatures (November 4th)
Star Melanie Lynskey in person!
Suburbia (November 5th) in 35mm
Director Penelope Spheeris in person for post-screening Q&A!
Hard Target (November 28th) in 35mm
An action movie can be a thing of beauty, and John Woo’s first Hollywood film is nothing less than that.